Thriving in an Unequally Yoked Marriage

Marriage is difficult, at the best of times. When couples are unequally yoked, however, many wonder if such marriages can survive. The answer is yes. In fact, they can thrive.

The Bible gives clear counsel on how to strengthen those spiritually misfit marriages. states any family divided against itself will fall apart. “We were divided on everything from what we watched on television, to managing our finances and, more importantly, the way we parented our kids. Something had to change!” one girl told me.

I often meet people who are in spiritually misfit marriages. One is a believer, the other not. One partner is passionately pursing spiritual growth, the other seems disinterested, at best. Concerns over the implications of differing beliefs are valid.

Adding children into the mix, many fear the spiritual impact will be too much for their family to bear. I get it. After our kids were born, I committed my life to following Jesus. At that time, Kelly did not. Although Kelly was supportive of my decision, I had no idea how much my faith could impact our relationship.

I wanted my boys to become morally responsible adults. I wanted them to be emotionally healthy and spiritually strong. I realized how inadequate I was as a parent. I needed help. Kelly and I weren’t on the same page. We weren’t even in the same book! I had doubts that we could agree on life’s most important issues. Maybe you worry about that too.

Perhaps you feel lonely sitting by yourself in church, week after week. You look around – envious – of all the other couples, sitting side-by-side. You wish your spouse sat next to you. You stifle the bitterness, but it keeps rearing it’s ugly head. If only your wife would pick up her bible and read it. If only your husband would understand how important his faith is for your family’s welfare. Discouraged, you sense something has to change. It may not be your spouse, loved one. Can your marriage survive? The short answer is, YES!

Whether your spouse is disinterested in spiritual growth, or is flat-out an unbeliever, 1 Peter 2&3 is an encouragement to every spiritually misfit couple. Peter’s counsels not only assures your marriage and survive, it can thrive!

Peter’s 5C’s For Misfit Marriages:

Commit for life:

Don’t assume you are stuck in the wrong place with the wrong person. Many people are not saved until after marriage. Peter didn’t say it, but his opening instructions simply imply: no marriage can survive with a one-foot-in-one-foot-out mentality. 1 Peter 2:1&2 Marriage is a divine institution and an engagement for life. As much as it depends on you, stay put! 1 Cor. 7:13.

Cooperate voluntarily:

Submission is Peter’s primary theme. You may find it hard to trust your mate to make godly decisions, but you can trust God that every outcome will be spiritually profitable. Other than if you are being asked to sin, the Bible gives no exceptions. Back down! Disengage in every pointless argument. 1 Peter 2:18. Be compatible and agreeable, out of love and respect for God.

Consider your spouse first:

Selfish ambition will ruin even the best of marriages. The more absorbed you become in your church, your religious activities, your faith, and your Christian friends, the more likely your spouse will feel displaced.

Don’t get me wrong, your entire family will benefit from your spiritual disciplines. Just have some balance. Encourage and support your mate, in all ways. Sometimes, the most spiritual thing you can do is have some fun. When you are with your spouse, be fully present. In doing so, your spouse will be connected to Christ by default.

Conduct yourself well:

Don’t treat your partner as though he is beneath you, because of his unbelief. Treat your spouse with respect, remembering that you weren’t chosen for your exceedingly great wisdom. You, also, continually go astray. 1 Peter 2:25. When you wander, Jesus just keeps rescuing your soul.


Talk, for sure. When the timing is right; when his heart is soft; when she’s not distracted; when you can communicate without extreme emotions; share the desires of your heart. Your spouse may not understand the spiritual implications but will see how much you care. As much as possible, however, communicate without words.

Live Consistently:

The true test of your faith is how well you live it out – in your home! A changed life is impossible to argue with. Live your life quietly, without contradiction. It’s a true statement, “If any from your family do not believe the word, they may be won over…. without words, when they see the purity and reverence of your life”. 1 Peter 3:1&2. My marriage is living proof.

The marriage God wants to bless is the one you are in, loved one.

Common Questions:

Q: What does God say about believers dating unbelievers?

A: Whenever you enter into a relationship, it’s going somewhere. Marriage is often the natural outcome of dating. Marriage is difficult, without the added pressure of competing loyalties. God’s exhortation to all believers is that you date and marry one who is like-minded. Read my article on Missionary Relationships.

Q: Does God have a specific mate picked out for me, and how will I know if I find him or her?

A: No. God’s will for your life are equally yoked. He’s not a micro-manager. Although He knows ahead of time what you will choose, He doesn’t not have one specific person in mind for you to marry.

Q: My spouse doesn’t believe. I’ve never committed my life to Christ because I’m afraid of what it will do to my marriage. What does the Bible tell me to do?

A: Nothing is more important than your salvation. When you’ve been given the opportunity to enter into Christ’s family, don’t delay your decision because of your spouse. You don’t know when YOUR time here on earth will end, and then it will be too late.

Having said that, as you grow in Christ-likeness, you will be empowered with a super-natural ability to love others with an entirely new kind of love. That kind love will have an effect on others. Pray that your spouse will be one whose life is forever-changed.

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  1. julie dickson on February 13, 2013 at 11:07 am

    hey Donna
    I love this blog , it really inspires me to follow Jesus first and also submit to not being “right” with my spouse but being “loving” with Gods love.

    • Donna Lowe on February 13, 2013 at 2:10 pm


      God bless you for listening to the Spirit’s prompting. You are a loving example to others.

  2. sharon tyhaar on February 13, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    I’ve been married for 28 years and yes it is a challenge to keep harmony in the house.
    I find with love and respect and Patience everything works out. You have to learn to go with the flow and give and take. Example Fridays is my husbands time to watch all his man movies and Wednesdays is my day 🙂 I feel for this younger generation with the drive through weddings and divorces.lets just pray that they will be brought up with the same morals we were.

    • Donna Lowe on February 13, 2013 at 7:57 pm

      Hi Sharon,

      You are so right. The younger generation needs strong leadership. I was reminded of that this morning, reading from John 8:9, the older ones are to set the example for the younger ones. Titus 2:4, also reminds us of that.

      In a day of disposable marriages, thank you for being an example setter, Sharon!

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